20 miles, 200 obstacles. It sounds daunting, it sounds tough, it sounds awesome. It was indeed all of these things.
I was a bit nervous before the event, as it was the longest I race I had ever entered, by about 10 miles haha. However, with the atmosphere, the camaraderie of all the runners, the amazing weather, and an enjoyable course, those nerves were quickly forgotten.
An amazing weekend, and already signed up for next year!
I would normally give a rough account of the race, though with this being 20 miles it would end up being the War and Peace of race reviews haha. So will just give a quick account of some race highlights.
The atmosphere at the start was awesome. A quick group warm-up under the tent, and before you knew it we were off. Anticipating a long, several hour race, but never having run that distance before, I wasn't quite sure what pace to start off at. I was in the first wave, and the big names of Ross MacDonald, James Appleton, David Hellard etc set off at a tremendous pace, probably comparable to my 10km pace haha. So with no delusions of trying to keep up with the front runners, I settled into a nice comfortable speed.
First few miles
The first section of the race was pretty fun and fairly easy going. It was early in the morning (8am), so the temperature was a nice 9-10 degrees Celsius, making it quite comfortable to run in. The obstacles came thick and fast, and there was never too much running before having something to tackle. From smaller standard obstacles like walls, sandbag carry, sternum checker, mud crawls, to the more unusual like having to get past a rugby team trying tackle you with cushioned bags, or the hilarious yellow space hoppers.
The Water Zone
It wasn't long until the first of the themed sections: The Water Zone. This started with the very scary looking 20ft water jump.
I don't really mind water or jumping into it, though standing at the edge of the platform, staring 20ft down and having to wait 5-10s while you watch the runner in front fall and disappear into the water below; it definitely was a little daunting to say the least.
I was torn between trying to get some good footage on my GoPro, and crossing my arms across my body to minimise risk of injury. In the end I managed to keep my arm out with the GoPro pointing at me, though closed my eyes and I look terrified in the video haha. It definitely felt like a long drop, as I remember I had time to think "when is the water coming?".
Although a bit scary, I recommend anyone doing this race to give the higher platform a blast. It's great fun, and you'll have an awesome buzz after completing it.
After the water zone, there was also the forest zone, mud zone, and Men's Health zone. The contrast between the zones was great, and all sections were enjoyable and fun.
During the Men's Health zone, one of the most notable obstacles of the entire race was the World's longest monkey bars. As you can see from the below photo, it looks pretty daunting, and indeed only a handful of people out of thousands manage to make it the entire distance.
I had a fair crack at it, but I paused for a quick rest about the third of the way along putting my foot on the bottom of the scaffolding, not knowing that it only counted if you made it the entire distance in one go without stopping. Seems obvious now in hindsight, that it wouldn't count if you stopped for a rest haha, though I had already ran 12 miles by that point and wasn't thinking entirely clearly.
For the second half of the race, the sun came out and the temperature shot up to about 22 degrees Celsius. This made a huge difference to my running ability, and my pace slowed dramatically. It was fantastic to be running in brilliant sunshine, though miles 15 to 19 became a bit of a slog, just praying for the next water station to be around the corner.
In general, the water and food stations were plentiful throughout the entire race, though the absence of anything for 4-5 miles until mile 19 (when I needed it most due to the temperature) seemed a bit strange.
The closing couple miles included some of the grander obstacles, like "High Net Worth" - a ginormous cargo net suspended by a crane over the river, which you had to scale over, across, and down the other side. Also "The Big One" - a series of cargo containers stacked on top of each other, where you had climb up one side, and then down a water slide to the finish line.
I imagine these might have been pretty tough if you are scared of heights, though the marshalls were great at encouraging everyone on. Definitely a fun way to end an awesome race.
I've obviously missed out the details for most of the other 200 obstacles, though all off them were enjoyable and built to a high standard.
In general, it was an incredible event, race, and weekend. I encourage everyone to get along to this if they can, as there are few other races that offer the scale, and level of professionalism that Rat Race Dirty Weekend provides.
Also hats off to those who did the Dirty Double (40 miles, 400 obstacles). Those guys are mental!